Frequently Asked Questions
The Vinyl Record Cleaning Company is expert in the vinyl record restoration industry. We know how many questions and queries you may have, so we have compiled a list of FAQs for you to explore.
The secret to properly cleaning vinyl records is this: there must be nothing left in the record groove after cleaning. Sounds straight forward, but it’s not. The fact is a higher standard than “cleaning” is required if music playback is to be of the highest fidelity. The record must be restored to probably better than its original state, because straight off the press a record may not be in its finest state. Whatever method is used, once done the cleaned record should be silent, which is to say you should hear nothing except the music. Assuming the record is not physically scratched or otherwise damaged you should hear no pops, crackles or hiss; and you should hear all the music; every shimmer off the back of a cymbal, every breath, every string overtone.
Dust, grit and particles worn from the stylus tip may not only damage records and reduce stylus life, but will likely affect tonal response. Given the composition of the dust, we can see that almost 65% of the extraneous material is harder than the comparatively soft record material and, therefore, is capable of scratching and damaging it.
Apart from improving the sound quality, keeping your records clean will save you money. Leaving that highly abrasive mix in a record groove will greatly increase the rate of stylus wear, thereby shortening it’s life and causing playback distortion – your music won’t sound very good.
At the same time, a worn stylus will do permanent damage to your records which you will hear as reduced detail.
People will often describe that their noisy records as “scratched”, wrongly attributing the noise to physical damage.
The reality is most likely that the noise is crud in the grooves, so-called “dust”. This is great news because it can be cleaned-out.
But what is this “dust”? An analysis of the crud removed from a number of stylus tips, which had been used on dirty records, showed that it consisted of approximately 12% jagged silica particles, 35% diamond dust, 40% miscellaneous particles, including soot, grit and particles worn from the record groove itself, the remaining 13% consisting of fibers and lint. This is only the particulate matter.
Added to this can be fats, oils, finger grease and other airborne substances such as nicotine ( think those older collections…). These act as binders holding the particles to the surface. They will also reduce sound quality, clogging the tiniest of vibrations.
Short answer? Yes. All vinyl records will benefit from proper restoration, be they brand new, part of a long cherished record collection or somewhere in between.
Brand new records are not soiled but they need to have the mould release (the treatment that helps them separate from the press) and they need to be treated to protect against static electricity.
Long cherished collections will have all manner of impurities in their grooves.
Wrong. The only acceptable standard is a method that achieves the elimination of everything from the groove.
Given what we now know can be in a vinyl record groove, it’s easy to see how brushes and cloths will be next to useless as our quest is to totally eliminate unwanted substances from our record grooves.
We need to dissolve all unwanted crud – particulate matter, binders, mould release, spores and the mould they grow; and we need to eliminate static electricity. Static is the greatest enemy of silent vinyl record playback because it attracts all tiny airborne particles from the air and the turntable platter and binds them tightly to the record’s surface. If that bond is not broken, those fine particles will never leave the record.
Effective restoration of a vinyl record is about more than simply cleaning the dust, especially for older records.
Chemically speaking, the challenge is removal of “soiling”, the mix of unwanted contaminants in the record groove. In the case of a vinyl record it may be understood as the cocktail of particles and binders.
These particles typically comprise silica, stylus dust, soot, grit, particles worn from the record itself as well as flocculated fibers and lint, mould and spores. This particulate matter will be bound together and to the record surface by air borne binders including substances like oils, fats, resins, nicotine as well as finger grease.
In scientific terms, VRC Easy Spread n’ Peel’s unique formulation breaks down the oil and grease binders which in turn disperses the particulates and releases the soil from the surface of the record, the binders are emulsified, allowing everything to dissolve into solution. That solution – or slurry – then dries trapping the contaminants into a removable film. The film containing the soiling and binder substances is peeled off and discarded, while eliminating the record’s ability to hold a static charge.
All in a single treatment!
If your aim is to remove everything from the groove and preventive static electricity, then the answer is the Vinyl Record Cleaning System (VRC). Only the VRC method removes 100% of dissolved impurities and eliminates static electricity in the one treatment.
Features & Benefits
- Prevents static electricity – stops fine particles being drawn and held on the record
- Restores fidelity while eliminating noise – hear all your music
- Lengthens the life of your stylus – protects your records and saves money
- Very practical – needs no electricity, sets up on an average coffee table
- Simple to use, no mess, plus batch handling methodology – average 3 minutes per record
VRC is different to the old water-based disc washer technologies. In fact, it is not so much a “vinyl record cleaning” method as a high fidelity restoration for records. The old methods rely on water based washing techniques, as would be done for windows, floors and cars; they all leave residue. The standard required to restore high fidelity to records is arguably superior to hospital grade cleanliness; hospital don’t have an issue with fine particles provided they are sterile.
For high fidelity there must be absolutely nothing between the stylus and the record’s groove walls. Microscopic particles, such as stylus dust (yes, that’s diamond!) or coatings such as oils, fats, even nicotine will degrade playback and hasten stylus and record wear. Moreover, if you are lucky enough to have records from those times you have the work of the original recording engineers and vinyl engineers. Today’s remasters are not the work of those yesteryear masters. Protect and cherish your originals!
At the heart of the VRC method is VRC Easy Spread n’ Peel, a proprietary compound designed to remove the soiling within the record groove and totally remove it.
In one treatment, the VRC method will restore fidelity, eliminate static electricity and stop it reoccurring.
Static is the oft forgotten enemy of pure vinyl sound playback. A static charge on a record may discharge through the playback cartridge causing pops and crackles whilst also adhering every airborne particle of dust to the record itself with a vice-like grip. Unless the charge is neutralised particles cannot be removed. VRC ESP eliminates static charges and stops them reoccurring. So whilst new records may not demonstrate the same sonic improvement as older records, the anti-static benefit of ESP is a must.
The VRC method is ideally suited for restoring older collections, especially large ones. The VRC method supports batch processing of up to 20 LPs at a time on a workspace about equal to the average size coffee table. It does this without the need for electricity and makes no noise or mess (there is no water involved). Once the technique is mastered, a batch of twenty LPs will take around an hour to treat, excluding drying time.
Reviewed and Proven
- Australia HiFi Review of June/July 2019; ranked #1
- Media DMA review
- SoundStage! review
Perhaps the leading reason why records are noisy is that their owners don’t clean them – even when they own a record cleaning solution!
Many of us walk around chores, meaning to get them “next”. Sometimes it’s the thought of setting up, doing the job and cleaning up afterwards.
Owners of a VRC know the following is true:
- Set up takes less than a minute and requires only two square feet of work space – a coffee table will do
- Do one record or twenty; no additional space or setup is required
- The actual cleaning task is a pleasure to perform, even therapeutic
- There is no mess, certainly no water to splash around
- Packing up takes two minutes (we include cleaning the brush)